Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Five people you will meet in your train journeys

Disclaimer: Characters mentioned in this post are purely imaginary. If you can identify with any of them, chances are high that we took a train together sometime to some common destination.

Train Journeys form an indispensable part of my life. They have always been my comfortable and favourite mode of transport. As a child, looking out of the window and watching those lush green fields passing by, was my favourite pass time during my train journeys. Cows grazing in the fields, children playing cricket, bridges over those beautiful rivers were some of the common sights during my journeys. There were a lot more of such beautiful sights on my way to my ancestral home. Periodic visits by chai-wallahs, pantry boys, magazine sellers used to pipe up my mood more.

Even now, with the cool breeze touching my face and tousling my hair, I can hear train singing a lullaby for me. Now most of my train journeys being overnight ones, i don't get to enjoy the sights anymore. But something that hasn't changed till now, is the different types of people I travel with. Let me try and broadly divide them into the some categories:

Loners: 'Live and let others live' types. The easiest of all types to put up with. They would either be listening to music or reading something or dreaming(???). Whatever they are doing, they won’t bother to interfere with what others are doing. They are content in their own world.

Mother India types: They have taken it upon themselves to take care of everybody. They will start off with questions like where u are going? what u are going to do there? where u are working? etc... They would normally be traveling with their sons or husbands or nephews. If they are traveling with their daughters or grand children, they chose to ignore u. Come on, how can they have time to spare for u when they are busy feeding their grand children, talking to them and putting them to sleep. The main advantage of travelling with them is the occasional food packets that they take out and insist that you eat atleast some of it. But I somehow like travelling with them. I feel a sense of security when a motherly figure is around.

Aunty Number One: Mostly in their middle ages, they love to extract each and every minute details of your personal life. Though they will start off with asking about your work and education, it won’t take much time for them to drift the focus to your family. They would be eager to know what your dad do for a living and where your home town is. During one of my journeys, I met this corpulent, nosey lady who started off a conversion with me, in a very friendly manner. She kept on extracting the minutest details from me, starting with the place i stay now to the nursery school I attended(!!). Considering the tangential direction in which the conversation was heading, I started smelling something really fishy. Disappointment was quite visible in her face, when I politely(Gosh, I extracted the last drop of patience in my body to sound so) told her that I don’t belong to the religion which she thought I would be a part of. She shifted gears and continued the conversation with increased vigour. Then, the conversation went something like this.

Auntiji: So do u know that girl named X, who stays there. (She infact gave me her full house address with her dad's name)

Me(thinking when will this conversation finally end): Ya, I know her, infact she studied with me in school(World is after all so small. The girl in picture happens to be one of my best friends from my school days).

Auntiji: U know what? One of my relatives told me about this girl, I wanted to see her for my son. (This was followed by a string of questions about how she looks, where is she now, etcetera)

Me(cursing myself for starting a conversation with her): Hmmm, yeah, she is good Aunty. (I didn’t want to explain the facts that she is seeing someone and she is not interested in marriage and stuff).

I finally managed to act as if i haven't slept for days and if i dont sleep now,i am drop dead. I withdrew to my upper berth with the auntiji wondering whether she should ask the girl sitting in front of her, about another girl whom another relative talked about for her another son :)

Next type of people is the most interesting...
I want friendship types: Travelling alone and mostly in their 20s or early 30s, these men believe that train journeys are the perfect place to make friendships. And me, a girl travelling alone beg to differ. Typically, I carry a book with me and attempt to read it, no matter how noisy the atmosphere is. Moreover, whenever anyone belonging to this group asks me a question, I tell all my details wrong, right from my name to the organisation i work for :). But, sometimes, you dig your own death trap. This happened when i was travelling one day, back to Bangalore, from my hometown. I was sitting in the side upper berth, reading a book. This guy was in the upper berth, perpendicular to mine, sitting on the edge. He tries to start up a conversation. For the sake of simplicity, lets call him Mr.X.

Mr.X: So are you working in Bangalore?

Me(starled by the fact that someone is actually interrupting me while i am reading): Hmmm... yeah.

Mr.X: Which company are u working for?

I mumble out the name of a famous multinational though i work for another company :)

Mr.X: Oh!! So which vertical u belong to?

Now I am really surprised. I have learnt about vertical, horizontal and diagonals in my mathematics classes, nowhere else. The organisation I work for, don't use this terminology either. So I gave him a look as if how come he knows about the organisational ladders existing in my company.

Mr.X: (As if to clear my confusion) By the way, I work for the same company.
This is followed by a grin that says “Don’t you know? We are long lost friends” :|

Now it was my time to be surprised. I didn’t know that one innocuous lie that I told would backfire at me with the same pace. A sheepish grin and a nod, that’s all I could manage before I turned my head back to my book. The guy was left wondering the entire journey how snobbish I am, not even bothering to answer a simple question. As if I care !!!

Papa, Mama is here to take care of you munnu types: Lets end this with the most difficult types to put up with. People traveling with babies. They carry with them feeding bottles, four course meals, innumerable dresses for their baby, small commode and what not. I really don’t know whether they are shifting their base to some other city or traveling in a train. Though many of you may disagree with me, I find them the most difficult ones to put up with. As it is you are crunched for space and you will have to move a thousand times over to make space for them. Not to mention the baby crying whole night, not allowing you a wink of sleep. I may sound presumptuous here, but hey, even I want to have a peaceful journey.

Whether its the sheer experiences it gives, the type of people you meet or the comfort, train journeys remain the most favourite means of transportation for me.

So whom did you meet in your recent train journey?

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At August 13, 2008 at 12:50 AM , Blogger mirage said...

Really interesting!

I love train journeys &have done a lot while at studies & at work.It is exactly true that we find all such people as u have noted down.

I am a loner type ;in my own world...and hate the friendship type ones.Who knows who they are?

I am glad to share the same feelings,dewdrops...


At August 13, 2008 at 1:30 AM , Blogger Mez said...

Hey thanx for droppin by my blog. Urs seem to be a good read. Will be back to read up at length.


At August 13, 2008 at 7:49 AM , Blogger Solitaire said...

Haha! I am definitely the loner. Sometimes, I even pretend that I do not understand others languages even if I do!! That way I do not have to answer any of their questions and they too do not feel like talking to someone so dumb! :)

Have not had a train journey in India in 7 years now. But I guess nothing has changed.

At August 13, 2008 at 7:57 AM , Blogger Dhanya said...

he he train journeys are always about a bunch of interesting people n incidents. I have been thinking of writing about it for quite sometime now. that strike a friendship n aunties looking for matrimonial match are so common.but I'm not so good at avoiding them. I always become their prey :( Once one guy asked me my mobile no n I said I don't own a mobile. but unfortunately it started ringing soon after :(

At August 13, 2008 at 1:13 PM , Anonymous raghuMitra said...

ha ha ur boredom brought a nice compilation...

I would say that there is one more category "The Slumbers".These are the people who sleep even before the train leaves the departure station and with a great difficulty they wake up just before the train reaches the arrival station(They might even require to set an alarm for waking up). I am one of these slumbers .. so i'll be in invisible state for all my co-passengers and if i am not at sleep ill be a Loner...

Since these people are mostly invisible there is a good chance that you missed them he he he.
Somehow i get good dreams when i sleep while traveling in train i enjoy them more than anything :)

At August 17, 2008 at 8:55 PM , Blogger Pratibha said...

Hey I remember u telling me the "verticle" anecdote! :)
It was a nice read..and really liked the classification and using "mother india" to describe some ppl was really funny!

Recently while travelling to Chennai, about 10-15 foreigners, all women of different ages got into the bogey...they had a lot of luggage and had not booked the tickets..they were exploring India..they were probably american, they spoke and laughed loudly and were freely talking to ppl around, but me being the "loner types" kept playing sudoku!

At August 29, 2008 at 4:13 AM , Anonymous Prongs said...

there is another group of college junta...am sure u wud hv been part of it sometime as well. they wud be the card players and the shouters and one of them wud always be hanging by the door. there wud also be few groups with a couple/budding couple in it who sit on the top berth/side berth and are so lost in each other that they cant be bothered about the rest of the gang.

tat apart...i understand from the silence on the blogging front that you are up and running again :)

good news. atleast use the weekends to type out something. i seriously think there is enough there to go for a collection of short stories/anecdotes and work to getting some lucky people a dedication on a book :)

think about it!

At September 29, 2008 at 3:27 AM , Anonymous Prongs said...

whr r u??
hope u r up and about again.
look forward to seeing something again soon.

At October 10, 2008 at 7:10 AM , Blogger mathew said...

reading this post makes me miss travelling in trains...i think our train travel experience is completely unique in this world!!

At January 10, 2009 at 5:48 PM , Anonymous Ashish Gourav said...

I usually encounter a different category of ppl........boring............they bore u with all their less intellectual stuffs and u can only nod your head despite the fact that u don't believe 1% of their obscure ideas....
nice post :)

At March 10, 2009 at 9:48 AM , Blogger Bindu Kumar said...

u have missed out one more category of 'my' type ;-)
or is it deliberately done !! :P

At March 26, 2009 at 11:48 AM , Blogger rash said...

this is one really nice nd engrossing piece.....i love my train journeys too....nice post...

At November 14, 2009 at 7:36 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At December 10, 2009 at 4:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At January 7, 2010 at 7:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

At January 19, 2010 at 12:02 PM , Blogger Dewdrop said...


So true :)


Oh yeah, how did I miss that type? :)

Is there something called "your" type? Can you enlighten us further?

@rash & anon
Thanks :) Keep dropping by

At February 5, 2010 at 10:29 PM , Blogger Sajith said...

Hahah nice one =)) I think I belong to the loner type...Seeing through the window and munching potato chips and at times reading a book or maybe listening to music! Who has time to do anything else? =)))
I love train journeys :D

At July 8, 2010 at 8:50 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great writing ya.... loved the dialogues too... hehe and the backfiring of your "evil ploy"!!! :P

At January 26, 2011 at 1:25 AM , Blogger karthik said...

good observation n it sounds very much familiar!! i wud say i belong to none of these categories as i mostly belong to 'loners' type or by chance mite end up being 'I want friendship' types (if it is good looking gal who is sitting in front of me ... :P)

i belong to 2 'CONFUSED' type who dont know what they 'ill be doing next moment ... ;)


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